By Mary Malone
Note: Petty Officer Joseph Worrell contacted me months ago – through the “Who’s Your Lender” thread posted on The Burning Platform. PO Worrell has very capable counsel and objected to each unlawful act committed by Emigrant Bank. Yet, Emigrant Bank was allowed to trample all over his rights and unlawfully seize his home.
PO Worrell and I came to the conclusion that the only strategy left – was to go national with the story. True to PO Worrell’s love of country and dedication to service, PO Worrell postponed the PR campaign until his return from deployment.
In his absence, while PO Worrell was serving his country, Emigrant Bank unlawfully evicted the Worrell’s from their home – violating a court ordered stay that was in place while the appeal was pending in federal court.
Emigrant Bank must be stopped. The madness must end. Please circulate this post and contact Eric Cantor and your members of congress and demand that they put an end to Emigrant Bank’s unlawful acts in violation of the SCRA.
Emigrant Bank Violates SCRA and unlawfully seizes active military home while he is deployed on missions in Afghanistan.
Petty Officer Worrell is a Reservist Navy SeaBee and combat veteran living in West Palm Beach who has served honorably for about 12 years. In 2009 he was deployed in the Persian Gulf when the home he built in Palm Beach Gardens was sold by the bank even though federal law (the SCRA) provides military members special protection from foreclosure. Unaware initially Emigrant Bank had in fact sold his house to themselves, he returned home and continued to live in the home, and with help from a local attorney and military legal aid he started fighting to get the illegal sale overturned.
The Service members Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”, successor to the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act) accords certain protections and rights to individuals who are either on active military duty or recently retired. The purpose of the Act is to allow the service members to perform their valuable duties without the worry of civil prosecution, foreclosure or eviction under most circumstances.
Before a court will permit such actions, the court will require certification that a military search has been conducted to confirm that the individual is not entitled to the protections of the Act. The proof may be required again later in the proceedings before certain collections or enforcement action is sought. Proof of that verification is usually in the form of an affidavit which may be called a “military affidavit”, “non-military affidavit”, “nonmilitary affidavit”, “Active Duty Verification Affidavit”.
Petty Officer Worrell complied with all requirements under the SCRA. The Florida judiciary – in both state and Federal Bankruptcy Court ignored the law – and allowed Emigrant Bank to unlawfully foreclose on the property, vacate the bankruptcy stay and now violate a stay halting the sale of the home while the case is under appeal in the Federal Courts.PO Worrell was recently recalled to active duty and left his wife living in the home a PBSO agent showed up Monday May 6, 2013 and taped a 24 hour eviction notice to their front door. Worrell’s attorney filed an emergency motion requesting the court stop the eviction because Worrell was outside Florida on active duty, and the case was on appeal. But on Wednesday May 8, 2013, despite receiving via fax a court order halting the eviction, several PBSO agents and representatives of the bank, still showed up at the home in Palm Beach Gardens, broke the lock, and installed a new one. Mrs. Worrell had to flee their home and leave behind nearly all they own.
A local CBS affiliate produced a story on Emigrant Bank’s unlawful foreclosure and violations of the SCRA which aired last night over Memorial Day – link to segment here:
The Worrell’s say the bank involved, Emigrant Bank based in New York, is a predatory lender with a ton of political capital. Apparently Congressman Eric Cantor’s wife headed up one of their units, and he allegedly pressured Congressman Michael Grimm of Staten Island into introducing a banking bill that solely benefits Emigrant Bank to the tune of $300 million. See H.R.3128.
Worrell says: “It is very strange because we believe our courts are supposed to protect our rights, not just help banks step on them. Before I can even put down my seabag or checking at my local command – far less pack up and move out, here they come to taking our home to profit unfairly from all our sweat and hard work. We believe some local officials have bent over backwards so this bank can skirt important federal law – and it just wrong”.
Please send this story to everyone on your contact list. We need PO Worrell’s story to go national to embarrass members of Congress into intervening and calling Emigrant Bank off. I’m sending the post to contacts at the American Legion in the hope that retired military will rally behind the Worrell’s and exert their influence on a corrupt Congress.
Contact Congressman Eric Cantor and tell him you want his wife’s employer, Emigrant Bank to comply with the SCRA, follow the law and respect the stay a FL judge has placed on the sale of Worrell’s home.
The law needs to be followed – even by banks connected to his office. Congressman Cantor’s contact info:
Phone: (202) 225-2815
Fax: (202) 225-0011